Current Associated Students, Inc. (ASI) President Joi Sullivan has some advice for new ASI President Owen Schwaegerle.

Joi Sullivan
Special to Mustang News

Mr. Schwaegerle,

Welcome to the family! I first met you on voting day last year. You walked from Fremont to VG Cafe while brushing your teeth around 1 a.m., where you ran into me trying to get as many last-minute votes as possible. Since then, I have seen that in your heart of hearts you care for others so deeply, and you clearly wish to serve. The joy for life you possess is contagious. I hope that as you go through this year, you continue to spread that love for life, and I know, without a doubt, you will be an excellent servant-leader for all Cal Poly students.

As you’ve recently discovered, words fail to describe the elation you feel as a result of your success in the recent election. Similarly, over the course of the next year, you will find that words cannot possibly do justice to describing the immense responsibility of Associated Students, Inc. (ASI) president. In true Cal Poly fashion, you must learn to fulfill your role by jumping in with two feet ready to carry your message of finding your anchor, two arms stretched wide, ready to embrace the entire campus community, two hands ready to dig in to the hard work that lies ahead, and one mind ready to Learn By Doing in a way unlike any you have experienced before.

Just as all ASI presidents have done in the past, you will do some things well, and you will fail more times than you can count. However, the failures will not define you. Instead, you will be defined by the way that you rise from the failures, because it is from within the failures that learning occurs. To succeed, you must have an eagerness to learn all that you can — facts, processes, people’s stories, skills, and, most importantly, who you are as a professional and a leader. It takes a special humility to be open to learning of this kind because you must recognize and admit you do not know everything; but if you do possess and express this natural humility, it will speak volumes about who you are and that for which you stand. Every day that you walk into your office, remember that you do not command or control the Cal Poly community but that you represent and serve 20,000 hard-working and dedicated students — in this recognition lies success.

In about two weeks, you will realize that for the next 12 months there will always be more items on your to-do list than there are hours in the day. Never let yourself get so overwhelmed by the day-to-day tasks or the never-ending stream of emails that you forget about the people around you or the students you serve. In this role, you can often do more good for Cal Poly students by being out and about with them, pouring into their lives and getting to know them as individuals, than you can by sitting in the never-ending meetings on your calendar.

As ASI president, you will find yourself being exposed to more knowledge than you know what to do with — knowledge about Cal Poly, the role of ASI and the political landscape of the state of California. With all of this information, you will often feel like the most educated person in the room and the one with all the answers. But remember, no matter much how you know, no matter how much information you have, you must listen before you speak. As a representative, you will need to be conscientious of the people around you and their needs. To do that, you must listen.

Owen, the best part of this job is walking out with relationships you didn’t know you could have. The people you will meet — from students to administration, from my fellow ASI presidents around the CSU system to the staff that make this university run — will define your time in this role. You will gain best friends, mentors and people you will count on for the rest of your life. At the end of the day, the relationships you build and the love you show to the people you work with is what matters most.

At this time next year, it is not your list of accomplishments that will matter — it is your memories of days past and the way in which you served. Write down your experiences, the people you meet, the places you travel, the speeches you give and the emotions you feel. That way, one day, you will be able to fully recount your year as ASI president and the amazing memories you made.

Always remember: You are never defined by what you do this next year or how you succeed. You are worth much because of who you are. Cal Poly will better off if you are true to yourself.

Congratulations, Owen. Get ready for one heck of a year!

Joi

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